short & sweet: friday links

“Letting Go” at Rookie Mag, by Sady Doyle. A wonderful piece on smoking. Or rather, quitting smoking. P.S. I recently quit, too. Yesterday I had two months without a cigarette. Yay!

“learned helplessness” re: drug cartel violence in Mexico. Pretty intense stuff.

Slap Chop, Virgin Islands style:

 
Astronauts: Drop your cocks, label your socks!

Inspiring: my favorite tweet, this week.

An infographic: Gay Rights in the U.S., State by State

More on mainstream media assery: Time cover sells out moms to sell magazines

And finally: the best hitchhiking story I’ve heard in a while.

How Decaf Is Produced

friday’s child

Health
“The International Breastfeeding Symbol in Use” at mothering.com. This gave me the shivers, imagining an America that was breastfeeding-supportive. Lovely images.

“How Do You Feel About Aging? Secrets From Ladies In Their 60s”. This article gave me mixed feelings. On one hand I think Ari does a great job highlighting, interviewing, and respecting our older population (mostly privileged ones, which goes unrecognized in the blog as far as I can tell). This is important work, as ageism decrees that older citizens are often not taken seriously by the mainstream, thrown on a rubbish heap and thought of as “less than”. So in that respect, it was lovely to hear these women’s voices and their thoughts. On the other hand, we see just how attached to the performance of beauty these women are. In the same troubling vein, Ari’s expressed thought these women are “just beginning to think about how aging affects their attitude and appearance” seems incredibly naive. Many if not most American women spend cradle-to-grave experiencing constant referendums on their appearance and we’ve internalized – oh yes – the idea that being old or showing wrinkles is about the most pathetic and catastrophic experience awaiting us all. There is no “just beginning” to it… but often times there’s no end. (P.S. I love the phrase “crone-friendly”). I sent this article and some of my thoughts to my mother, and await her response.

“What Is Gluten and Why is Gluten Free Important?” sent to my email inbox this morning by Top Food & Drug. Pretty comprehensive 101!

“Really, IRS?” at MomsRising.org
“According to an article in the New York Times, the Internal Revenue Service has determined that breastfeeding “does not have enough health benefits to qualify as a form of medical care.” Therefore, women cannot count expenses for breastfeeding supplies in their tax-sheltered healthcare spending accounts. In doing so, the IRS has ignored the guidance of experts at the Department of Health & Human Services and World Health Organization who are actively promoting breastfeeding because of its significant health benefits for mothers and children.”

Did I mention I posted my first piece on Squat! Birth Journal‘s blog? Well, I did. “Supermodel mum told to ‘put ’em away’ – unless she’s showing them to straight grownup males, natch.” Anyone reading who is interested in supporting Squat!, they are looking for content; I love they actively promote an anti-oppression framework!

And since I’m on a breastfeeding kick, two more posts:

“Silly Remarks On Breastfeeding Older Children” from mamapoekie (and yes, I have literally heard them all!)

and

“Happy Weaning”, by yours truly

Culture
“Why Should Library Have To Do A Balancing Act On ‘Sicko’?” at courant.com. The more I read about librarians the more kick-ass I realize they are. h/t eoctrl on Twitter.

“#Hollaback and Fighting Street Harassement” at Womanist-Musings. In response to this piece, but not really in response if you want my opinion, Alexander Cohen wrote “”Street harassment” and ending silencing” and @asked me if I was interested in commenting. I’m not, so far, although I hasten to add it’s not as if I think the convo is worthless. Cohen’s piece demonstrates a profound lack of interest or credence granted to women’s lived realities. A conversation can’t happen until both parties are willing to listen and just for today, for now, I don’t have the energy for it, especially given how many conversations I’m invited to.

Back to the Hollaback piece; I read the transcript, and did not watch the video. I was deeply moved by May’s thoughts on what it’s like to live a life in fear and the cost to oneself and others: “I want to build a world in which good morning means nothing more than good morning and we can say it to people who do not look or think anything like us. I think that good morning has the power to change the world and the way people live in it. […] And I think as women, we will be able to wipe that tough girl look off of our faces because we will know that no matter what we wear, no matter what we wear, no matter what we wear, that the days of ‘she was asking for it’ will be over. “

Oh, the “tough girl” bit. I’ve lived it. I still live it, sometimes (I’m now remembering my days working in male-dominated pulp mills… apparently you can be “asking for it” when wearing Carhartt’s, no makeup, and steel toe boots). It fucking sucks.

“Ableist Word Profile: Idiot” from FWD.
“Many of the ableist words which reference ‘inferior intelligence’ are actually used in settings when people want to say that someone is being thoughtless, reckless, irresponsible, or rude. So, those are all good words to use as alternatives to ‘idiot.’ One of the things about exploring ableist language is that it forces us to think about the actual meaning of a sentence; when you find yourself wanting to refer to someone as an ‘idiot’ or something as ‘idiotic’, pause and think about the meaning of what you are trying to say.”

“Death by femininity, again” at IBTP
“a titillating squirt of micro-porn to whet the insatiable appetites of typical prog-liber-o-prurient HuffPo readers.” I haaaaate HuffPo for this kind of stuff, or more specifically, for self-defining as “progressive” but being just as misogynistic as just about everywhere else. More nip slips = more page views, whee!

“Irish Apes: Tactics of De-Humanization” at Sociological Images. The subject of dehumanizing language and images fascinates me.

Race & Class
“Get Ready For The Whitest Oscars In A Decade” at Colorlines. Good thing we’re so post-race issues!

“Another 9 Year Old Girl was Killted in Arizona” – but didn’t receive national coverage. Wonder why? (Hint: I don’t really wonder.)

“Are you better off buying $200 shoes?” at SocImages. Why yes, I totally am. Thanks for the tip, Desert Companion! Hey, can I have $200? Also some rent and grocery money? I really do need “decent footwear”. And food and stuff.

“Whole Foods and the HI-LO JP Controversy” by J. Valera. HI-LO sounds awesome and like nothing I’ve personally seen. Whole Foods? Yeah, seen it.

Parenting
“Honoring our Children’s Interests” at Life Learning Magazine‘s blog. “For most of us, trust and respect come easiest when our kids’ choices and decisions are in synch with our own. Not so simple to deal with are the times when a child expresses a desire to do something with which we don’t agree, which could be anything from playing violent video games to attending school.”

I agree with this. Many parents and grownups work to manage children’s lives such that compliance is the best option for the children in question. Our mettle and spiritual strength is tested when children express something that discomforts us. Sadly, grownups are in such a position of power children often have neither the knowledge or resources to object or defy. They grow and approach adulthood… and we see cultural narratives about sullen, depressed, oppositional, rebellious, adolescents where we call them silly or worse.

Hm, I’m thinking of opting out of all that. You?

Make/Craft
Pan de los Muertos at Epicurious. We made this last night – rich, eggy, and delicious!

Quote
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~ Carrie Fisher

“Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.” ~ Elie Wiesel

Random Awesomeness
How Decaf Is Produced

Miranda Kerr breastfeeding

Supermodel mum told to “put ’em away” – unless she’s showing them to straight grownup males, natch.

Miranda Kerr breastfeeding

On Wednesday Miranda Kerr, Australian model, fashion worker, and partner to actor Orlando Bloom, announced a painkiller-free birth to their new son Flynn and included an at-home photo of her breastfeeding the delightfully-snuggly newborn.

I don’t know this family, but this brief piece was a ray of sunshine in my day. I believe such unselfconscious and straightforward announcements by celebrities in support of birth advocacy and breastfeeding – as well as lovely candid photographs like this – do a great deal to help the many “regular mums” (and dads) at home watching. Anyone who’s made a study of breastfeeding rates knows that family and cultural support – or the lack thereof – is a critical factor in how our babies end up being fed. In the US, a country with dismal breastfeeding rates (and a concomitant endemic lack of support for the practice), pioneering celebrity families can empower otherwise uncertain newbies. This theory is supported by impassioned activists representing populations with even lower rates than the sum population, such as teen mothers and African American mothers.

I also know breastfeeding, with its oft-innate demonstrable power and its female- and child-positive associations, is extremely threatening to many men and women. Images of breastfeeding and discussion of breastfeeding rights are roundly mocked by all quarters including, sadly, many prominent feminists (such as Erica Jong’s recent piece lumping breastfeeding as being part and parcel with modern motherhood’s “prison”, hinting that required breastfeeding may be imminent and other foolishness. Memo to Jong: don’t get it twisted. It’s kyriarchal standards and cultural institutions that “imprison” women, carers, and small children).

Thus, of course, there were many critics responding to Kerr’s photo (which of course, transcending irony to the nth degree, shows so very much less flesh than the Victoria’s Secret work she’s done). Australian health advocate Dr. Samantha Thomas’ post on the responses to Kerr’s photo reveal some of the less uncivil (but still profoundly wrongheaded) commentary. Included are body shaming (yeah, I know – directed at a supermodel), accusations of vulgarity and inappropriateness, and slut-shaming (you can see more examples of misogynistic commentary here). Bizarrely, some commenters criticized Kerr for wearing makeup in the photo while the Daily Mail piece claims she’s wearing none.

I was very fortunate to raise my newborns in a breastfeeding-friendly culture (in fact, sadly, many of the women I knew at the time did not seem to realize how counterproductive and cruel anti-formula-feeding language can be). But when I see negative responses to Kerr I have that oppressive tingle: a near miss. Had my circumstances been different, stories like Kerr’s and responses to them could have had a tremendous effect. As it stood, I had fewer barriers than many when it came to breastfeeding. My body cooperated with me, the babies did well, my practitioners supported us, my family could feed ourselves on my one income which in turn meant I had a partner who was able to do what it took to make things happen (I was a chemical engineer at a paper mill – my husband Ralph brought me our newborn twice a day), and the children and I enjoyed the process. Other families aren’t so fortunate, and many women need more help and more cultural sustenance – including the emphatic support of the public that yes, they have a right to feed their child the way they choose. At least in the US, we are failing miserably in that regard.

So today I’d like to extend, for what it’s worth, my deep appreciation to Kerr and her partner for being brave enough to go public with something they have every reason to celebrate. As one mother to another, I hope she finds friends and supporters to help her and her partner in their new journey.

It looks like things are getting off to a beautiful start.

 
***

Originally published for “SQUAT! Birth Journal” in 2011.
Birds are like little people

if it’s friday, you should mess around on the inter-netz instead of working

Culture
“The Facebook Double (D) Standard on Obscenity”
This is just sort of amazing to ponder. What is really happening when we ban images of breastfeeding but promote any degree of (usually young, usually sexualized) cleavage? Breastfeeding is a recognized and protected “right” in many states – but not all! Breastfeeding it is under fire continually and, most importantly, people demonstrate an ignorance and vitriol toward women and their bodies that is staggering and sobering to behold. Women are still wrongfully arrested for breastfeeding, told they can’t breastfeed here or there or must cover up – even when the law does not support this (this in Washington State today, recognized as one of the more breastfeeding-friendly of our fifty – and by the way this conduct demonstrated by the Long Beach Head Start facility clearly violates Washington Law Against Discrimination), and maybe most tellingly everywhere the subject comes up we see viscous, untenable and shameful rhetoric heaped on the personhood of breastfeeding families – targeting the breastfeeding woman, of course (and on this, I refuse to link to the hate). My breastfeeding days are over but I feel deeply, deeply sad at how poorly our country and cultural framing is on what is a very pro-family, pro-baby, and pro-woman practice that should be regarded not as an enforced standard for every individual bio mom but as a protected and supported reproductive right.

“Grrl Vlog #4: Celebrity Weight Loss” by Reel Girls. Very good watching – take four minutes and DO IT. “OK I’m skinny now, but I’m also, like, nice, and sweet, and pretty, and refined.”

“When ‘Both Sides’ Aren’t Enough: Reporting on Weaver’s Blackface Pic” at Soc Images
I’ve often thought this before; the “obsession with [false] parity” (which often leads to “innocently neutral” articles that ignore historical context lived by those marginalized, thereby keeping privilege and oppression invisible). If anyone is in any doubt as to why blackface (and along the same vein and with some similarities, redface and yellowface…) is offensive, one can start the education at the excellent Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorablilia – particularly the “Caricature” treatments, Dr. Pilgrim’s many writings, and Question of the Month essays.

“When Teachers Highlight Gender, Kids Pick up Stereotypes” from Pennsylvania State University, and reported (of all places) at FoxNews.com. Main point: in a classroom setting, teachers don’t need to be actively spouting gender stereotypes to effectually promote them. I like the idea of using “child” and “friend” language over “boys and girls” language – very much.

If you run over a fat person and kill them, you won’t go to jail. I mean c’mon, they were going to keel over any minute now anyway since their veins pump gravy and stuff.

Twisty goes on sabbatical (boo hoo!), also links to Privilege-Denying Dude (yay!)

Domestic Industry
The grilled moussaka I made yesterday was delicious according to Ralph and (sort of) the kids, but I thought it was a total miss. So anyone who’s got a fail-proof moussaka recipe, lay it on me. By the way, who is this reviewer complaining moussaka is too “heavy” of a dish? Guess what, “heavy” food gives us the energy to survive, not to mention the zest for life and a will to live!

Shallots in Red Wine at Craft. I’m making Italian fare for Thanksgiving; I’m going to make this dish with whole garlic.

Thanksgiving books; these are with a vegetarian bent (if you won’t be doing the turkey thing) and also several by Native / First Nations authors. I put some on hold at our library to read while we’re at the Lake.

Help
They’re dying of cholera in Haiti; other places in the world lack soap to prevent diseases. 5 million die a day, mostly small children. Go to http://www.cleantheworld.org/ to help (more on “How to help Haiti” at the Chicago Tribune).

“Eight Great Ways to Help Others on Thanksgiving”; yesterday I donated several pounds of veggies and some pantry business to a local family. It felt good to help; it also felt very good not to waste food, something that sends me into a tiny panic. Our cats and chickens help us not waste food either; scraps go to both sets of animals (our chickens are vegetarians but our cats are not).

Consumerism
It’s Christmas time, or rather, it’s time for Ralph and I to stop spending money on utilities and buy and create those extravagances that are so lovely to experience. Ralph and I make most our Christmas presents, but we buy a few as well. I’m currently plaguing Ralph to buy some Samsonite for the kids (their current luggage is falling apart); last night I got the perfect safety pins for a Phoenix project.

Random
I HAVE NO WORDS

One thing’s for sure: Nobody ever sees the pool shark coming.

Birds are like little people.

comic from toothpaste for dinner

linky mcfuskerson

In a few hours I’m off to the City (not really: Olympia) to watch Ralph and Liights play sweet, sweet music (I will also be giving Flo a squeeze as I haven’t seen her in a while!). I’m also hoping to eat some spicy Thai or Vietnamese cuisine until my mouth explodes in a hedonistic flavor party. While I’m rocking I’ve got some links for you all to bask in the radness therein:

Local:
Mamma Mia! is playing at the 7th Street Theatre tonight and tomorrow. I might go tomorrow. Anyone want to come with me?

Social:
Tami Harris hits it out of the park at psychologytoday: “What’s so wrong with ‘sounding black?'”

Proof that a man can do Feminism right: “Silence, Ines Sainz and Offensive Lines” at postbourgie

Idzie published “Misconceptions About Unschooling” at her blog I’m Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write. It’s a great piece (of course). I get a huge, huge laugh of the people who occasionally come to this 19 year old’s (incredibly well-written) blog and tell her how if you unschool your child he/she won’t learn how to write! NO SERIOUSLY! This happens!

“On Birth Rape, Definitions, and Language Policing” by Cara at thecurvature; some day, I truly hope, we can begin supporting victims instead of re-victimizing them by denying them their lived experience.

Practical:
“Cloth diapers for apartment dwellers” at hobomama. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You know, I no longer use diapers but I seriously, seriously love how supportive, helpful, and awesome the parents/carers are who write these types of DIY primers!

Krafty:
“Kids Clothes Week Challenge (Fall 2010)” at elsiemarley. What do you think? Should I do it? What should I make?

Humor:
This made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes: “The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman” at citizenofthemonth.

I’m not exactly sure what category this post is in, because it’s funny but apt and brilliant and my favorite of all posted here today: “Kids and wheelchair manners” at badgermama.

***

In other news, last night I received an email that included this passage:

Some days I feel as if I am standing inside a thick, heavy, almost greasy-feeling cloud of frustration, guilt, hopelessness and torment. It actually presses down on my shoulders physically (at least it feels like it). The moments that you share are like one of those industrial strength hurricane fans that they use in the movies. Once I begin reading, the fan begins to blow that cloud away. I can breathe again. I can be happy about something again. By the time I’m finished reading, I’m ready to take on the next challenge.

So… that was pretty wonderful to hear.

roadies and recovery

It’s technically only a Saturday but our weekend has been a busy one already: first, we hosted a family of three for two days and two nights (with the help of my mother). Our guests were the Canfields: family travellers, potential roadschoolers, musicians (Ralph and Joel met through FAWM; Joel penned “Camel Lash/Not Just Believe” that Ralph used in a recent home vid), entrepreneurs, purposeful nomads, Jehovah’s Witnesses who wear (seemingly intentionally, although I didn’t get around to asking) mismatched socks. Their family was a delight to talk to and get to know; their six year old daughter and our two children played seamlessly as if they’d known one another for years (Really. It was almost uncanny.). Joel was a real talker and was full of better ideas than most people. I’m still thinking over our conversations and trying to wrap my mind around them.

Overlapping this visit my mother requested our attendance in a breakfast et cetera with out-of-town relatives who’d stopped over: my aunt, uncle, and two cousins. I last saw this batch of my family almost five years ago on a brief ride back to Port Townsend after my ten-year high school reunion. In our last episode together my cousin K. was a near-silent girl of about fourteen; her brother A. a supremely sarcastic and know-it-all-sounding eleven year old who made me want to ice-pick my ears out. To be perfectly fair though, I have not parented an eleven year-old, especially a schooled one; also and likely most relevant I was extremely milk-sick, that is physically and emotionally and mentally waning from being away from my nursling for 24 hours (I’d love to describe how Eighteen Levels of Horrid this feels but it’s a bit off topic for now). I was also hungover (well – probably, knowing me), I was crowded into their car and feeling like a jerk for taking up every inch of extra space – and frankly, I can be away from my own children and function marvelously but I also miss them so incredibly fiercely and never has that 101 drive taken so long.

Anyway, I do love to see my So. Cal. family because we used to be a part of that scene; we lived in Huntington Beach, where my mother grew up, from about 1979 to 1984. It seemed like a betrayal of sorts to reclaim my great-grandfather’s then-unlivable homestead (where my maternal grandmother grew up) and break from the sunny shores to find these mysterious twin Nowheres of Hoquiam and Aberdeen (the latter where my maternal grandfather grew up). We set off as a foursome in the OOAK homemade bus to come up to the mossy, green, and frankly spooky Northwest (I still remember driving west on Route 12, further West, on and on, and the air was delicious, I almost would give up my native Washingtonian life just to feel and breathe that air again for the first time). At this point I, one of the handful of older cousins, departed from the influences of my larger family and their more tribal lifestyle.

It was nice to see my cousins again (and of course they’d grown into adults, holy cow): I am also especially fond of my marriage-Aunt R., a woman with lovely green eyes who has remained to my memory constant in appearance and demeanor and persona throughout my life. She has a very dry delivery and a wickedly understated sense of humor; my husband and I both like the way she talks, low and quiet, because even though she says perfectly normal things there is this slight threatening sound to the timbre of her voice like a growling cat.

So in this brief reunion I talked to my cousins a bit (not too much; they both seem rather shy), we sent off our guests, walked to the gallery where my children have some art pieces displayed, and then took my cousin K. and Ralph and my children swimming at the Y. Ralph accompanied the kids in the pool while my mother, aunt and I sat on the bleachers and caught up a bit talking about family, death, band camp. The relatives are heading south tomorrow and both my mother and I will have our homes all the way “back”. I am a very social person and my husband is the same in this regard; however I need nest-time to recuperate more than others might realize.

click-through for public nudity

MY BOOBS ARE SO IMPORTANT AND SPECIAL AND IN NO WAY CAN YOU SEE EVEN A TINY BIT OF THEM AND I WILL SEW SOME MASSIVE BRIGHT CAPE SO YOU KNOW YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO SEE THEM

Because, you know, it’s pretty damned exhibitionist to nurse a baby without something like this (I should have warned you PHOTO EXTREMELY NSFW!!!).

I was trying to find a picture of myself nursing my babies today; instead I ended up doing a random Flickr photo upload of the family. Enjoy.

happy weaning

Make Way For Duckling

Just like that, you are weaned. Like the three years that prefaced the last morning you nursed, breastfeeding evolved beautifully to meet both our needs. This morning instead of watching you nurse, I hold you in my arms and you quietly stroke my face. Later that evening at your request we hide ourselves in the bathroom and I paint your nails a bright red in honor of your third birthday. I hold your tiny toes and you look me in the eyes and say, “I love you so much, Mama.”

With pure dumb luck I fell into the category who finds breastfeeding deeply satisfying on physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual levels. So to move away from this relationship feels major; I sometimes feel we’ve known one another forever. And for as long as I’ve known you, nursing has been so instrumental in the way we connect.

Baby, I am so blessed to have had you. You above all taught me what it means to nurture. We nursed through two pregnancies and one miscarriage. We nursed in the evenings, mornings, at restaurants, in church, and in the bath. You nursed the morning of the arrival of your baby brother and shared the breast willingly with him. We nursed through the scary illness you had at fourteen months when you couldn’t even keep water down; nursing saved you from many other would-be illnesses and eased many transitions.

Nursing kept me laughing and let me put my feet up more often than I would have without it.

Now at this milestone you emerge confident, and I have the deep satisfaction of knowing I didn’t rush your babyhood for either of us. Yesterday you climbed into bed with me and after a few quiet moments you looked up at me and said, “I used to nurse with you in the morning. Do you remember this?” as if it were ages ago, not a few days. You were obviously so comfortable with this change, while I got one of the first of many moments to come where I act casual and give a quick hug; tears well up and I blink them away. I am so happy to see you confident and growing. But just yesterday you were still my baby at my breast.

Happy weaning, Phoenix. My little Beak.

3rd Birthday, Sophie / Phoenix

Fort Warden

Kiki!

Hysterical, 1

Hysterical, 2